LANSING, Mich., Nov. 12, 2021 — This week, Democratic state senators and representatives introduced legislation that would help Michiganders affected by extreme, more frequent weather events caused by climate change. Massive storms, flooding, and power outages over the past few years have illustrated a clear need for investments in jobs, weatherization, and infrastructure upgrades and bold policy changes in order to better protect Michigan residents.
“Too many Michiganders have lost furnaces, water heaters, cars, and cherished mementos due to basement flooding, dam breaks, and intense storms,” said Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit). “The bills that we are introducing are bold, commonsense policies to ensure Michigan becomes climate-resilient so that when my daughters grow up, they won’t have to deal with the devastating impacts of these severe weather events.”
Identical legislation in the House and Senate would do the following:
- Create the Michigan Climate Resiliency Corps Act, housed within the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, to partner with local governments, nonprofits, universities, tribes, and businesses to employ Michigan residents in climate resiliency projects such as rain gardens, tree planting, and bioswales.
- Senate Bill 747 by Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) and House Bill 5581 by Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor)
- Create both weatherization and disaster relief navigator grant programs to assist individuals in getting the financial assistance they need for pre-weatherization, weatherization, emergency relief, home repair, or clean energy.
- Senate Bill 750 by Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) and House Bill 5582 by Rep. Christine Morse (D-Texas Township)
- Create a state weatherization program within the Department of Health and Human Services to help low-income residents improve the energy efficiency and resiliency of their homes against climate change, as well as to create the structure for employing hundreds of Michigan workers and apprentices to perform good-paying, union weatherization, and pre-weatherization jobs.
- Senate Bill 748 by Sen. Rosemary Bayer (D-Beverly Hills) and House Bill 5577 by Rep. Ranjeev Puri (D-Canton)
- Increase the amount of federal low-income home energy assistance block grants that can be spent on weatherization to at least 10%, as current funds are capped at $6 million each fiscal year.
- Senate Bill 749 by Sen. Sean McCann (D-Kalamazoo) and House Bill 5579 by Rep. Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids)
- Require the Michigan Department of Transportation, before building any new state highway trunkline infrastructure, obtain a green infrastructure permit for the project from the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, who would be required to create a green infrastructure permit program.
- Senate Bill 752 by Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) and House Bill 5579 by Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia)
- Require each water utility — providing water or sewerage service — in the state to develop a plan ensuring each permanently installed water pump or power source will automatically switch to a backup power source if the primary source fails and subject a fine otherwise.
- Senate Bill 751 by Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) and House Bill 5580 by Rep. Abraham Aiyash (D-Hamtramck)
- Emphasize the importance of emergency notification to Michiganders whenever there is a natural disaster, chemical release, or spill of hazardous materials, explosion at an industrial facility, or other environmental disaster.
- Senate Resolution 96 by Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield)
The bill package also includes Senate Bill 593, sponsored by Sen. Rosemary Bayer (D-Beverly Hills), which establishes a framework for local municipalities to develop their own stormwater utility system — but does not require them to do so — and for them to collect a stormwater utility fee accordingly. The bill was introduced in July and sent to the Senate Committee on Local Government.
“Michigan is now prepared with resources to address climate resiliency, putting us on path to a sustainable, successful future, in which we can retain and attract new economic energy to the state,” said Rep. Rachel Hood (D-Grand Rapids). “Upgrading our infrastructure will create quality jobs and opportunity for our state that will position us for success, now and for emerging generations of Michiganders.”
“Our bills will help Michigan residents in so many ways — increasing energy affordability for low-income families, creating good jobs, improving our environment, and remediating harmful substances like lead and asbestos,” said Sen. Sean McCann (D-Kalamazoo).
“Our communities across the state have felt the devastating effects that more severe weather, which is becoming an unfortunate norm, has had on their homes, businesses and livelihoods,” said Rep. Abraham Aiyash (D-Hamtramck). “This legislation will help forge a future in which our infrastructure can absorb the brunt of severe storms and protect residents, like those in Hamtramck and Detroit, in the way they deserve.”
This legislation is part of the Climate Resilience Plan unveiled by Democratic senators and representatives in August and coincides with the deadline for affected residents to apply for flooding assistance from FEMA. The legislators continue to work with environmental, labor, government, and community stakeholders on more bills as part of the Climate Resilience Plan.